Navigation Links
Opium and marijuana research go underground
Date:10/31/2007

The worlds leading expert on the opium poppy has joined forces with researchers working on another infamous drug-producing plant cannabis in hopes of finding new uses for the much-maligned sources of heroin and marijuana.

Peter Facchini, professor of Biological Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Plant Biotechnology, has received a $650,000 NSERC Strategic Project Grant to create new varieties of opium poppy and cannabis that can be used for medicinal and industrial purposes, but will have no value as illicit drugs. And his work is taking him where few Canadians have gone before: Deep underground into the countrys ultra high-security medicinal marijuana growth facility.

Its certainly unusual for a plant biochemist to work in a copper mine hundreds of metres underground, Facchini said. This is a really great project that involves two of the worlds most important medicinal plants and is clearly unique in the plant biology field.

Facchini and a new team of U of C postdoctoral researchers have teamed up with Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems Inc., the National Research Council Plant Biotechnology Institute, the Alberta Research Council and the University of Saskatchewan to create and study mutant varieties of opium poppy and cannabis in an unused portion of a copper and zinc mine near Flin Flon, Manitoba. Prairie Plant Systems produces medicinal marijuana under contract with Health Canada in this state-of-the-art facility.

Despite awareness of the importance of crop diversification for the long-term success of agriculture in Canada, few plants are cultivated for the production of high-value bioproducts. Opium poppy accumulates the alkaloids morphine, codeine and thebaine, and cannabis produces psychoactive cannabinoids and is used as a source of high-quality fiber and oil. The domestic market for codeine, morphine and oxycodone, which is derived from thebaine, is in excess of $1.6 billion annually, all of which is currently imported. Canada is well-positioned to support the development of new crops cultivated for the production of valuable bioproducts, such as pharmaceuticals and fibers, says Facchini. The research will identify novel genes for use in the metabolic engineering of opium poppy to accumulate high-value pharmaceutical alkaloids and to block cannabinoid production in cannabis. The latter will allow for a safe, legal, made-in-Canada cannabis crop that will have virtually none of the mind-altering chemical of marijuana but can be grown for hemp fibre, oil and food.

The overall theme of this work is to modify plants to make them more useful as crops and chemical factories, Facchini said. Alberta is quickly becoming a leader in this area, especially in the area of biofuels. The immense potential of plants as sources of high-value bioproducts for the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors also needs attention.

The Biosecure Underground Growth Chamber is in a mine owned by Hudson Bay Smelting & Mining Co. Ltd. Facchini says it is a superb venue for his research. Its not what you would picture an old mine shaft to be. Its clean and well-lit, its kept at a constant temperature and its one of the most secure places in the country, he says. It gives a whole new meaning to mining our data.


'/>"/>

Contact: Grady Semmens
gsemmens@ucalgary.ca
403-220-7722
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Canada approves marijuana-based pain spray
2. Scientists discover the bodys marijuana-like compounds are crucial for stress-induced pain relief
3. Good news for the medical marijuana movement: pot proliferates brain cells and boosts mood
4. Machinery of the marijuana munchies
5. Marijuana-like compounds suppress the immune response
6. New DNA fingerprinting technique separates hemp from marijuana
7. Long-term marijuana smoking leads to respiratory complaints
8. Enhancing activity of marijuana-like chemicals in brain helps treat
9. New study examines brains own marijuana
10. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
11. Quantum Dots Research Leads to New Knowledge about Protein Binding in Plants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2, 2016 Perimeter Surveillance & ... Systems, Physical Infrastructure, Support & Other Service  ... offers comprehensive analysis of the global Border ... generate revenues of $17.98 billion in 2016. ... a leader in software and hardware technologies for advanced ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited ... with VoicePass. By working together, VoiceIt ...  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different approaches ... increases both security and usability. ... about this new partnership. "This marketing ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... -- Elevay is currently known as the ... high net worth professionals seeking travel for work   ... there is still no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. ... deal with a firm handshake. This is why wealthy ... citizenship via investment programs like those offered by the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores ... 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 A person commits a crime, and ... to track the criminal down. An outbreak of ... Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a ... of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MONICA, Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the ... institutions across 15 countries. Read More About the Class ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware ... . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together ... built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation ...
Breaking Biology Technology: